The 2014 Tour de France is heating up as the 100th edition of the most prestigious cycling competition heads into another grueling climb from Saint-Gaudens to Saint-Lary-Soulan Pla d'Adet on Stage 17 on Wednesday.
Veteran biker Michael Rogers gave Australia its first victory of the tour after crossing the line first on Tuesday's excruciating 16th stage from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon. The 247.5-kilometer ride is considered one of the toughest stages in the competition that saw Vincenzo Nibali dominating on top of the general classification podium.
Roger's victory served as the crowning glory in his career after serving a temporary suspension for being tested positive for banned substance clenbuterol at the Japan Cup last October. However, the International Cycling reversed the decision last April, allowing the 34-year old Australian to compete at Giro d' Italia - in which he also won a couple of stage.
"I always dreamed of winning a Grand Tour and I tried for many years. All of a sudden I realised, stop trying to live someone else's life, you can win stages, you can win seven-day stage races that are a little bit shorter," Rogers told the press conference right after his victory via the Australian.
Stage 17: Saint-Gaudens - Saint-Lary-Soulan Pla d'Adet
The 17th stage of the Tour de France is expected to get even tougher for the GC riders as they embark into another mountainous route capped by another climb to the finish, at Pla d'Adet, at 1,654 metres (5,427 ft).
The stage features at least three Category 1 climbs at 1 Col du Portillon at 1,292 metres, Col de Peyresourde at 1,569 metres, Category 1 Col de Val Louron-Azet at 1,580 metres, giving GC riders and big climbers the advantage in this part of the tour.
However, factors such as wind could affect the outcome of the race and the GC standings, with Nibali looking to pad up his four minutes, 37 seconds lead over Spain's Alejandro Valverde.
Outlook for the Stage
The sprinters are set to take center stage at least for the first hour of the race with a flat surface on its initial portion. Peter Sagan and the rest of the green jersey contenders will try hard to break away from the peloton and build momentum before making their climbs.
Again, Nibali will be among the contenders to finish first but the threat of homegrown talent like Alberto Contador, Haimar Zubeldia and Valverde would be even greater than ever. Rogers could also pull off an encore performance, feeding from the momentum he got from his recent win.
Prediction: Nibali winning the stage in thrilling fashion.
Live Stream Information
Live TV Coverage of the Tour de France 2014 (Stage 17) is available on NBCSN (US Viewers) and ITV4 (UK). NBC Sports Extra (US), ITV4 (UK), and SBS Live Stream (Australia) provide free live streaming services to viewers, while the latest standings and news update are available on Tour de France 2014.
For more Tour de France update, read more at IBT Sports.